NBA Saturday: Rose Calls for Championship
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Derrick Rose Calling for A Chicago Championship
Three years ago, Derrick Rose asked the throng of reporters at Chicago Bulls Media Day why he couldn’t be the MVP of the league that year. We all love Derrick, but when he said that, the eye rolls and under-the-breath chortles spread through that corner of the Berto Center gym pretty quickly. He really believed it, but the rest of us didn’t. Not really.
“The thing that drives me is just winning the championship,” Rose said. “That’s the only thing on my résumé that I’m missing. This is a great time to do it where everybody is watching. It’s the biggest stage you could possibly play on. My teammates are preparing themselves for a big year, and I am too. It should be a crazy, magical year where I think there’s going to be a lot of people watching. It should be exciting to the Bulls fans.”
Bulls fans, though, are still healing from a year ago, when Rose intimated that he maybe could have returned in the 2013 playoffs, but ultimately chose to sit out the entire season and postseason. But, as he explained on Friday, it’s not as if he didn’t understand his hometown’s frustration.
“As a fan, of course I would want my favorite player to be out there. At the same time, the way I look at it, I had to be selfish,” Rose said. “The thought of me going out and injuring myself again … I did not want to put myself in that position, and I just tried to stay far away from that and just think everything through and try to stay positive.”
Now, at the advent of the 2013-14 season, he’s ready to put all of that behind him and move forward toward that championship he so desperately wants to win.
“I try to get it out of my mind as quickly as possible because it is in the past,” Rose said. “At that time, I didn’t train my body the way I train it now. I know that I improved every area on my body, so I should be more balanced than in the past.”
He has gained 10 pounds of muscle, which suggests he’ll be stronger attacking the basket this year, but Rose swears that his style of play won’t change. This is somewhat surprising considering he’s been so banged up over the course of the last two seasons that he’s only played in 39 total games. Other players with a similar attacking style have had to adjust their game as the injuries pile up, such as Dwyane Wade of the Miami HEAT. But Rose doesn’t feel like he’s there just yet.
“I think I’m going to play the same way,” he said. “I think the only thing that changed in my game is my confidence level. I think I’m way more confident in my craft, in my game. I worked out a whole year training my body. Going out there and showing people that I’m the same player but a more efficient player, that’s what I’m trying to prove.”
Now, Rose enters a season with his most complementary two guard since Tom Thibodeau took over coaching duties in 2010, but beyond Jimmy Butler, Rose feels like this is arguably the strongest lineup his Bulls have had for as long as he’s been there.
“I think we’ve got the right pieces,” Rose said. “Everybody that’s coming in, it seems like they’ve got their head on right. You have guys that’s been here the whole summer, just improving their games, trying to make the team better. That’s all you can ask for.”
That, and a championship, which Rose very seriously believes the Bulls can win this year. The HEAT are formidable, the Eastern Conference is loaded, and Chicago is far from a flawless team. But if we’ve learned anything from Rose in the past, it’s that he’s pretty good at setting lofty goals for himself and then meeting them.
Roll your eyes all you want, but as we’ve learned in the past, you’ll look silly for having done so.
Is Marquis Teague the Next Late First-Round Sensation for Bulls?
While Chicago’s starting lineup is as strong as it’s been in years, the second unit isn’t quite as good as 2011-12’s “Bench Mob.” However, second-year point guard Marquis Teague is hoping to make the same kind of leap that Jimmy Butler made last season.
“I’m ready for whatever [Head Coach Tom Thibodeau] has got for me,” Teague said. “I’ll do whatever is asked of me. Whatever happens, happens, so I’ll just be ready for whatever.”
Thibodeau is known for sort of red-shirting his rookies, something that was made even easier last season because Teague was at the back end of a pretty loaded guard rotation, even with Derrick Rose out all year.
Teague, however, is a prime breakout candidate for the Bulls this year, and a summer full of serious training and a solid Summer League showing prove that he’s ready to see some more significant minutes this year.
“I’ve been working on my game on all aspects, just working to become the best basketball player I can become,” Teague said. “Defensively, offensively, getting stronger in the weight room, just been doing everything.
“I can score the ball, and I’ve been working on my outside shot, but my speed is one of my best assets, one of my best talents and I use that to my advantage. My quickness too, I’m going to use that to my advantage to help me get onto the floor more.”
Teague, who was picked with the 29th overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft, looks back at his late draft selection as a blessing now, particularly because he’s playing for a team that’s built to make a deep playoff run every single year.
“It was a blessing to get drafted at all,” Teague said. “Any pick, I wasn’t complaining at all. I was happy. Just to be able to come to an organization like this, the Bulls, I can’t complain. How can you complain about this? Every year we’re a contender. I’m playing on a team with great guys that’s going to help me get better, so I’m just happy I’m in this situation.”
He’ll be even happier if he sees a big uptick in minutes this year. The Chicago coaching staff would appreciate that, too, because it would mean he was playing well enough to deserve it. With a thinner bench than in years past, they’ll need Teague to make his sophomore leap, which a clearly more confident Teague seems to believe is not only possible, but probable.